The San Diego State Aztecs and the St. John's Red Storm have a date set up this evening in Charlotte for the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Eighth-seeded SDSU is entering its sixth strait tournament while head coach Steve Lavin and the ninth-seeded Johnnies are getting their first taste of the big dance.
SJU will be without its center, and defensive leader, Chris Obekpa who was suspended for two weeks after failing a drug test. The Red Storm roster doesn't feature another formidable big behind Obekpa, and Lavin is likely to employ 6-foot 6-inch forward Sir'Dominic Pointer as his man at the five position. Pointer will have his hands full battling in the paint with the Aztecs' battery team in the front court.
Senior guard D'Angelo Harrison, childhood friend of SDSU's Winston Shepard, is the Red Storm's most valuable player, and his scoring ability will definitely keep the Aztec defense alert. Harrison has averaged 17.5 points per game in each of the last two seasons. This season he has upped his shooting percentages to a comfortable 41.4 percent from the floor and 37.6 percent form beyond the arc. He comes awfully close to averaging 35 minutes per game too, so expect to see Harrison on the floor for the vast majority of the game.
The SDSU defense, ranked second in the country at 53.1 points per game, wil be the difference maker in this match up. The best defensive teams St. John's has beaten this year were a 104th-ranked Saint Mary's College and an 89th-ranked Syracuse. None of SJU's opponents this season have featured a scoring defense ranked within the top 40.
The Aztecs failed to score more than 45 points in their conference tournament championship game last week, and took a hard loss as a result. The defensive attack will keep SJU's point total low, but SDSU is still in danger of being outscored if they can't get some type of offensive rhythm going.
Score Prediction: 59-54 Aztecs advance.